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Maize is helping Waikato farmers Scott and Nikola Mitchell

Maize is helping Waikato farmers Scott and Nikola Mitchell

2012/13 Season

Owners: Scott and Nikola Mitchell
Farm location: Koromatua, Waikato

Maize is helping Waikato farmers Scott and Nikola Mitchell improve the quality of pastures on their lease block as well as providing valuable autumn feed for their herd.

The couple run a low input system on 125ha at Koromatua between Hamilton and Raglan. In the climatically challenging 2012-13 season their 400 cow Jersey and Jersey cross herd produced 125,000kgMS (1000 kgMS and 313kgMS/cow) down from the previous seasons record production of 155,000kgMS.

"Our lease block needed contouring and regrassing and growing maize was the ideal solution" says Scott. "For the past two seasons we have planted 3.5 hectares in Pioneer® brand 34P88 and it has produced 70-80 tDM of high quality silage".

Scott uses Pioneer® brand 11C33 which allows him to feed out two days' worth of maize silage at a time without sacrificing feed quality. Minerals are sprinkled onto the stack face prior to loading the feed-out waggon and this eliminates the need for pasture dusting. The maize silage is fed out in a long line across one-third of the paddock and the remaining two-thirds of the paddock is fenced off. Cows are held in this area until milking is finished. This ensures the whole herd gets access to the maize silage at once.

"It takes less than an hour to feed out enough maize silage for two days" says Scott. "The cows love it and there is virtually nothing left in the paddock by the time they have finished".

Historically it has been a struggle to put weight back onto the couple's high BW herd in the autumn. Feeding maize silage has allowed the Mitchells to extend lactation into the autumn and lift cow condition without sacrificing pasture cover levels.

"Maize silage is great for putting weight on cows and we haven't needed to invest in feed bins or other infrastructure to be able to feed it" says Scott. "It's a really simple system that is working well for us".